By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — A Dunkirk man was convicted Monday of molesting two North Tonawanda girls, though he wasn’t on hand to hear the verdict.
As jury selections ensued on Jan. 23, Paul S. Turley, 47, left Niagara County Court during a lunch break and never returned. He is now considered a fugitive, while his wife and the family dogs also have vanished, according to the authorities.
The jury found Turley guilty of abusing the girls throughout the late 1990s. The victims were between the ages of 5 and 7 when the incidents began. Once of the victims was also abused on Christmas Day 2003 when she was 12 years old, the jury deemed.
The trial, which lasted five days, ended in Turley’s conviction Monday for first- and second-degree course of sexual conduct and first-degree sexual abuse. He could be facing up to 39 years in prison during his April 4 sentencing, while his bail bond of $50,000 was forfeited on Friday following his disappearance.
The trial was allowed to continue because Turley had signed a statement prior to his disappearance, while the jury was kept in the dark until a verdict was rendered.
The turning point in the trial was a 2011 telephone conversation, with Turley recorded by one of the victims, when he insinuated that he abused the girl and felt remorse, according Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth
He again contacted one of the victims after he was arrested in December 2011 and that led to the district attorney’s office seeking to revoke his bail, Donatello said.
“On Wednesday morning I had asked to put him back in jail,” Donatello said. “It had come to our attention that he had contacted one of the victims. We broke for lunch and he never came back.”
But Turley’s attorney D. Daniel Stevanovic said on Tuesday he will still file an appeal, even if his client’s whereabouts are not discovered. He added that Turley told him a short while after disappearing from the Lockport courthouse that he was “terrified of the prospect of losing his bail and left. “
Donatello said it was the tenacity of the “incredibly compelling, incredibly strong young women” in pursuing justice that led to Turley’s arrest years after the abuse between 1996 and 1998. Both of the victims are now in their early 20s.
Turley is being sought on a bench warrant by an investigative unit of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department,
Donatello added.Contact reporter Michael Regan at 693-1000, ext. 4115.